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Posted by in fashion trends on August 6, 2011
World War II impacted virtually every aspect of American life and fashion was no exception. In 1942, the United States imposed a rationing system similar to the one Great Britain had implemented the previous year, limiting, among other things, the amount of fabric that could be used in a single garment. Materials including wool, silk, leather and a fledgling DuPont Corp. invention called nylon were diverted for use in uniforms, parachutes, shoelaces and even bomber noses.
Jackets could be no more than 25 inches in length, pants no more than 19 inches in circumference at the hem, belts no more than two inches wide and heels no more than an inch in height. Hemlines rose to the knee in an effort to conserve fabric. Buttons, cuffs, pockets and decorative details like ruffles and lace were used sparingly. Women wore shorter, boxy jackets for a V-shaped silhouette reminiscent of military uniforms. Even Hollywood traded elaborate costumes for simplified designs, a move many claimed lent movies a new air of realism.
As soon as it was introduced in 1938, women embraced synthetic nylon as a replacement for silk stockings. In the early 1940s, however, with silk already diverted to the war effort, the government recognized similar uses for nylon and commandeered it as well. Women responded by coating their legs in tan makeup and drawing lines up the backs of their calves to mimic seams. By the time the war ended and stockings returned to store shelves, nylon had become a generic term for hosiery. Read the rest of this entry »